Why is NERC Compliance Mandatory & What You Should Know About It

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North American Electric Reliability Corporation or NERC is a leading electric reliability organization associated with the development and enforcement of reliability standards for an efficient power supply in the United States of America, Canada, and northern Baja California, Mexico. 

This organization aims to focus on assurance, reliability, learning and to work on all the risk-based approaches that can improve the reliability of the electricity grid throughout the continent. It administers a Critical Infrastructure Protection program or CIP that addresses the security of cyber assets essential for the smooth operation of the electricity grid throughout North America. Compliance with NERC’s CIP is mandatory. 

Here is everything you need to know about NERC and its respective CIP program: 

CIP standards and its components: 

As stated, CIP is a program that includes all the essential activities and programs associated with the security of cyber assets required to carry out the unperturbed operation of the electricity grid. CIP covers a wide array of activities: 

  • Categorizing assets 
  • Reporting sabotage 
  • Making sure that security plans limiting physical and electronic access are well taken care of. 
  • Designing recovery plans as well as techniques in case of breaches. 
  • Vulnerability management and protection of information, etc. 

In short, CIP is the backbone of NERC that ensures that everything falls in place while maintaining a trouble-free operation of the electric grid. In total, the NERC CIP plan includes nine standards and 45 requirements, all of which cover the security of electronic parameters as well as protection of critical cyber assets, security management, personnel and training, and disaster recovery planning. 

Why is CIP compliance mandatory? 

The compliance to CIP is mandatory for the simple fact that the program is concerned about providing physical and cybersecurity to all the assets that are important to the electricity infrastructure of North America. Any cyber-attack on this prime utility infrastructure will make way for disaster that may go beyond control and cause severe damage beyond repair; if not checked on time. 

The role of CIP is to aid NERC to work with the industry partners to revise its standards, obtain feedback, draft new standards, and others. The regional partners of this organization, too, work together to supervise its compliance with industry partners.

How to be NERC CIP compliant? 

If you are an electricity operator or bulk power supply owner, you need to comply with all the standards and regulations that NERC CIP has laid out. Listed below are the few measures that are to be enacted to be NERC compliant: 

  • Highlight all the categorization systems that determine critical assets in your company. 
  • Lay down controls for the management security 
  • Train company personal to be CIP-compliant 
  • Create a physical and electronic security perimeter
  • Provide relevant information on the managing system security 
  • Deal with the accidents and mishaps, report them, and implement the best recovery plans 
  • Address management change and vulnerability 
  • Protect important information 
  • Acknowledge and work on the demand for physical security. 

Compliance with all the above-listed standards requires various steps and tools. You can seek some assistance from the professionals such as Proven Compliance Solutions if you are facing any trouble implementing the said guidelines in your company or supply plant. 

Takeaway: 

NERC has established essential standards and guidelines that are mandatory to follow to avoid any disaster on the industrial as well as national level. Non-compliance with such standards may as well hamper the security of the assets responsible for operating the bulk operating system of the country. Moreover, your institution may be penalized in the form of fines, sanctions, and other serious actions. Get in touch with a responsible platform like Proven Compliance Solutions for the attainment of NERC CIP compliance.

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